Most students born in American Samoa or anywhere within the United States have access to the Pell Grant, which covers the costs of attendance and other expenses for their first two years of college. Students who do not qualify for the Pell Grant, such as those born outside the US and its territories, often find the expenses involved with higher education prohibitive. Given the number of families from other countries who reside full-time in American Samoa, our community has its own fair share of students who have to struggle to continue their education after high school.
To assist local students who cannot receive the Pell Grant, the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) makes available two “in-house” scholarships in the spring and fall semesters. The SGA (Student Government Association) Saili le Atamai Scholarship specifically serves only those without access to the Pell Grant, while the Presidential Merit Scholarship is open to all ASCC students, be they Pell-qualified or otherwise. Applicants for the SGA Scholarship must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, while the required GPA for the Presidential Merit Scholarship is 3.60. Other criteria, such as the completion of certain courses, also apply.
For the current fall 2020 semester, the Division of Student Services has announced its two recipients of the in-house scholarships. They are Ms. Merenita Setu, awarded the SGA Saili le Atamai Scholarship and Ms. Lily Lauina, who has received the Presidential Merit Scholarship. Ms. Setu, 19, was born in Motootua, Samoa and raised in American Samoa. She graduated from Tafuna High School last year and since then has been working part time to cover her college expenses. Ms. Setu enjoys participating in community service projects and has been affiliated with the Boys & Girls Club of American Samoa. Miss Lauina, also 19, was born in American Samoa and graduated from Iakina Adventist Academy this past June. Her background in community service includes participating in the Pathfinder Club, who organized activities like clean-ups and a food and clothing drive for the Tongan community. More recently, as part of her Psychology class at ASCC, she participated in a group community service project to assist the LBJ Nursery.
“Over the years, we’ve found that even students who cannot receive federal assistance while attending college still participate actively in their local community,” said ASCC Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i. “In choosing our in-house scholarship recipients, we look at their academic performance as well as their overall civic engagement, which includes participation in community service projects. Through the scholarships, we primarily try to assist students in need who do well in their studies, but a record of community service is always a big plus as well.”
For more information on the ASCC in-house scholarships, see the ASCC Catalog available online at www.amsamoa.edu